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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

354                        Death

the earlier existence, to bar personal identity wand prevent us
from seeeing the corpse as alive and a continuation of the man
from whom it was developed, though having tastes and other
characteristics very different from those it had while it was
a man.

From this point of view there is no such thing as death—
I mean no such thing as the death which we have commonly
conceived of hitherto. A man is much more alive when he is
what we call alive than when he is what we call dead ; but
no matter how much he is alive, he is still in part dead, and
no matter how much he is dead, he is still in part alive, and
his corpse-hood is connected with his living body-hood by
gradations which even at the moment of death are ordinarily
subtle ; and the corpse does not forget the living body more
completely than the living body has forgotten a thousand or a
hundred thousand of its own previous states; so that we should
see the corpse as a person, of greatly and abruptly changed
habits it is true, but still of habits of some sort, for hair and
nails continue to grow after death, and with an individuality
which is as much identical with that of the person from whom
it has arisen as this person was with himself as an embryo of a
week old, or indeed more so.

If we have identity between the embryo and the octogen-
arian, we must have it also between the octogenarian and the
corpse, and do away with death except as a rather striking
change of thought and habit, greater indeed in degree than,
but still, in kind, substantially the same as any of the changes
which we have experienced from moment to moment through-
out that fragment of existence which we commonly call our
life; so that in sober seriousness there is no such thing as
absolute death, just as there is no such thing as absolute

Either this, or we must keep death at the expense of
personal identity, and deny identity between any two states
which present considerable differences and neither of which
has any fore-knowledge of, or recollection of the other. In
this case, if there be death at all, it is some one else who dies
and not we, because while we are alive we are not dead, and as
soon as we are dead we are no longer ourselves.

So that it comes in the end to this, that either there is no
such thing as death at all, or else that, if there is, it is some one